MHS grad Cassidie Poll flies high as Drury University STUNT team memberApr 24, 2023 12:54PM ● By Liisa London Mecham
Poll and her team participate in STUNT games for four quarters. First quarter is stunt, and second is pyramids and tosses. Third quarter is tumbling, and the fourth quarter wraps up with a combination of everything. Photos by Drury University Sports Photographer
2022 Morgan High graduate Cassidie Poll is flying high as a member of the Drury University STUNT team. Poll, a four-year cheerleader at Morgan, recently completed her first season of STUNT competition and is excited that STUNT received official recognition by the NCAA DII as the “newest emerging sport for women.” In an interview from Springfield, Missouri where Drury University is located, Poll shared specifics on the new sport, her experience as a college student-athlete and how she prepared for this exciting adventure in her life.
Citing the website, STUNT the Sport, Poll explained, “STUNT is a new female sport that incorporates skills derived from cheerleading. STUNT is an exciting head-to-head game between two teams who execute skills-based routines in various categories – partner stunts, jumps & tumbling, pyramids & tosses, and team routines.” She added, “You don't see any bows, pom poms, sparkly uniforms, or extreme makeup. Instead, athletes perform in volleyball-like jerseys and spandex shorts.”
Poll added, “STUNT is pretty cool when you see the full run done of the game. We take all the aspects of cheerleading besides dance and put it into a four quarter game. We do not cheer at sports events or wear the same uniform. We dress like volleyball players. Our skills are based off of technique and how well you can execute the skill.”
“In cheerleading you don't really focus on that all the time, but in STUNT during a game the two teams go head-to-head completing the same routine, and whichever team executes the routine best wins that point. There are eight levels in each category which we learn gradually as we can,” she detailed further.
In a game, Poll delineated, “Quarter 1 is stunt, and Quarter 2 is pyramids and tosses. There is a 12 minute halftime to warm up, and then Quarter 3 tumbling. Quarter 4 is all those combined together.”
“My team was small this year because we were a first year program here at Drury,” she recounted, “but that didn't stop us from working hard and doing very well for a first-year team.”
“My year did not go exactly how I wanted it to go, but that's normal for my first year of being a college athlete. I had some down times, but it's made me excited to work harder for next year. My team is very goofy which I love because it makes early morning practices fun, but they also know how to take things seriously, so we can get stuff done.”
As a freshman in a new setting far from home, Poll has enjoyed her first year as a college athlete, but she admitted that there have been challenges to overcome.
“For me, I have 5AM practices Monday-Friday. Being sweaty and tired after practice definitely makes it hard to want to go to class,but you know you need to and you should. Here at Drury most of the students are athletes, so it's pretty normal for students to show up to class in practice wear,” Poll noted. Drury boasts 21 NCAA Division II sports and another 12 non-NCAA Division II sports.
“Another thing that's been the hardest for me is being so far away from home. Sometimes it can get lonely, and in college, it is really normal for students away from home to get unmotivated and start to slack or go into a form of ‘depression.’ When I went through that stage, I just would make it more of a push for me to show myself why I'm here and tell myself the benefits I will have in my future because of this experience.”
Poll has not only tackled a new sport and worked to blaze a trail for those who will come after her at Drury and overcome the challenge of being far from home, she has succeeded academically at the university level and found new confidence in her abilities to learn at the highest levels.
“Keeping up with grades can be hard too, but the school gives students, and athletes especially, so many opportunities for help. You just have to be willing to ask for it and use resources they offer and self advocate, That’s one thing I really struggle with,” Poll noted.
“I always had an IEP in high school, so I struggled a lot with learning,” she openly shared. “I was very, very nervous to come to college because I always felt like I wasn't smart enough or that I might struggle a lot. One thing I know now after being in college is that anyone is capable of college.”
“I believe for me college is possible because Morgan High's Special Education staff and program helped me so much. One special person I'll always look up to and thank is Mrs. Maggee Stapley. She is the best and very much prepared me the most for college!”
As prepares to wrap up her freshman year at Drury, Poll is enjoying her new team, school and town. “I really love the size of my school. The athletics program is a very big thing here, and the staff involved is so amazing. I love that everyone is very involved in all aspects of all the sports. We have a very good support system here.”
“Springfield is very much a college town. There are around five colleges in Springfield, so everyone you meet here is a college student. Most kids are around my age, and I can relate with them in some type of way. I also love the scenery. There are very nice parks here that I like exploring.”
Poll wrapped up the interview with suggestions for those who may want to become collegiate level STUNT team members. She first detailed what helped her prepare at Morgan and then gave suggestions for those who want to follow her path to compete collegiately in STUNT.
“Mostly experience and being involved in athletics in high school and as a young child helped me prepare. I was a member of the Morgan High Cheer Team all four years, and I tumbled and cheered in middle school also. Definitely working hard and trying new things helped me prepare for this experience.”
“Another thing that also helped me prepare was my high school weight lifting class. STUNT is pretty much all about strength in all positions. Taking that class and gaining strength and also knowledge on how to workout was very beneficial.”
She concluded, “Find tumbling and cheer programs as soon as you can. Start getting experience. Social media is so big right now! Start getting yourself seen and post videos of your progress. Also, research programs and see what you want in a school and STUNT program. Stay connected with them, but keep your options open.” λ